Berkeley Student Dating Life Weathering Economic Storm

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Before books, housing, food and transportation-and excluding out-of-state tuition-an undergraduate education at UC Berkeley costs $8,932 per year, according to the university's admissions Web site.

As students juggle these costs with the bleak job market looming after graduation, funding a romantic relationship may seem out of reach. Although a night out at Chez Panisse isn't always an option, Berkeley students are finding simpler ways to spend time with their significant others.

Professor of sociology Barrie Thorne describes dating in a rough economy in empirical terms concerning both time and money.

"Some students will no doubt be doing paid work for longer hours, creating time pressures that may cut into social life," she said.

In addition to seeing their free time diminish, Thorne said that students are feeling "more anxiety about the future," struggling with bills or even the possibility of dropping out for a semester.

For the young men of the Berkeley dating scene, a poor economy translates into less opportunity for wooing ladies with offers of a free meal. According to second-year English major Elijah Guo, picking up the bill for a date isn't always an option. When it comes to meeting girls in the first place, though, he said he is undeterred.

"If I see a really attractive girl at a party, I won't stop my approach thinking, 'Oh wait, the economy's bad ... Maybe another time,'" Guo said. "This is, of course, assuming that I have the initiative to approach a girl at a party, which is a separate issue."

For other men, the situation could be summed up by the simple eloquence of senior Justin Effres.

"My girl don't mind drinkin' cheap beer!" he said.

For third-year Stephanie Shaw, who shares an apartment with her boyfriend, reduced work hours have meant less cash and more arguments over money, as well as a bit of cabin fever.

"Both of us wish we could go places," she said. "But even a BART ticket for two can seem too expensive when we don't have enough money to pay bills."

Juggling an even more mature set of financial demands, senior Nicole Iturriaga is getting "really creative" to save money while planning her wedding.

"In reality our wedding was never going to be a crazy, blow-through-all-your-money kind of event," she said. But Iturriaga has taken a job so that she "can save for bills, the wedding and trips" to see her fiance.

Many cited imagination in dating as the key to guarding the flame. In this regard, the relationships of Berkeley students may be weathering the economic storm more successfully than those of some other Americans.

According to the blog of Dating A Banker Anonymous, a kind of virtual support group for women to "share their tearful tales of how the mortgage meltdown has affected their relationships," the downturn on Wall Street has forced an unwelcome lifestyle change. The blog laments the depressed moods of financial boyfriends and disappointment at having fewer trips to Europe.

Fortunately, a tour of Italy is not the only way to spend a weekend in college.

College couples seem willing to spend time together doing something as simple as taking a walk or cuddling up with some mac and cheese.

As junior Katerina Robinson said, "Bottom line: Everyone is freaking poor and it sucks. But we make the best of it."


Contact Hannah Jewell at [email protected]

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